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When it comes to rewards credit cards, I believe that the more competition- the better. With more players in the marketplace competing for the same crowd of creditworthy consumers, we’ve seen sign-up bonuses and promotions increase drastically over the last 5 years. There could be another player in the mix soon: Wells Fargo. This week American Express and Wells Fargo announced that they would be launching a partnership to bring Amex credit cards to Wells Fargo’s 70 million customers.

San Francisco-based Wells Fargo will be teaming up with Amex. Photo credit: Reuters.
San Francisco-based Wells Fargo will be teaming up with Amex. Photo credit: Reuters.

Wells Fargo is the nation’s fourth largest bank in terms of assets with the largest branch network in the US. However, although the bank is the country’s seventh-largest issuer of general-purpose credit cards in the country, only one third of its customers carry a Wells Fargo credit card. Although Wells Fargo currently has a relationship with issuer Visa that is still in place, the bank and American Express both sensed a huge opportunity to issue Amex’s line of credit cards to Wells Fargo’s enormous customer base.

Wells Fargo plans to make the new cards available nationwide by mid-2014 although they also announced they would be launching a targeted pilot program in select US markets later this year.

Customer loyalty and credit card benefits are part of the motivation behind the deal, according to the head of Wells Fargo’s Consumer Lending Group, Avid Modjtabai, who said, “We want to give the customers who already carry our card – and the ones who don’t yet – greater rewards and benefits for having a Wells Fargo card in their wallets.”

Wells Fargo will also be getting a more sophisticated loyalty program.
Wells Fargo will also be getting a more sophisticated loyalty program.

Although Wells Fargo currently has a rewards program that includes options to redeem points for cash back, gift cards, merchandise and travel experiences as well as an online shopping portal with bonus earning opportunities, it looks like LoyaltyEdge and Amex will be helping to design a new, more sophisticated Wells Fargo loyalty program where rewards will include merchandise and gift cards. There was no specifc mention of travel rewards or airline or hotel partners, but I’d love to see them create a new transferable points program or at least team up with travel brands that don’t currently have a travel cobranded card, like Four Seasons or Kimpton.

Based on the information available, I suspect we’ll see a suite of cards and a fixed-value rewards program that looks a lot like Capital One Venture Rewards or Bank of America World Points where you earn a set number of points or miles per dollar and then can redeem them at rates of 0.5-1 cent apiece for cash back, merchandise or gift cards, and potentially for statement credits for travel, though that wasn’t specifically mentioned in any of the announcement information.

For more information see these posts:

Maximize Monday: Fixed-Value Rewards Programs

Ranking the Top Fixed-Value Points Programs

While I’d be more excited to see some of the new Wells Fargo cards offering co-branding opportunities with hotels and airlines, or even transferability to travel partners, at least this is a step in the right direction for Wells Fargo and will create more opportunities to earn and redeem points for its huge roster of customers.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Even after the introduction of the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is still a fantastic choice if you want to avoid the Reserve’s $450 annual fee, earn 2x on all travel & dining and earn a 50,000 point sign up bonus.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Named Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, July 2016
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
16.49% - 23.49% Variable
Annual Fee
Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95
Balance Transfer Fee
5.00%
Recommended Credit
Excellent Credit

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.